November 14th, 2012
07:08 PM ET
1 year ago

Jindal slams Romney for 'gifts' comment about minorities, young voters

(CNN) – Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana fiercely shot back at Mitt Romney’s claim Wednesday that President Barack Obama outmatched the 2012 Republican presidential nominee by offering "gifts" to African-Americans, Hispanics and young voters.

“I absolutely reject that notion,” Jindal, who was a surrogate for Romney’s campaign, said at the Republican Governors Association conference in Las Vegas. “I think that's absolutely wrong.”

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“I don't think that represents where we are as a party and where we're going as a party,” he continued. “That has got to be one of the most fundamental takeaways from this election.”

Romney made the comments on a call with top donors Wednesday afternoon, various news outlets have reported. The former Massachusetts governor also made similar arguments on a separate call earlier in the morning, CNN confirmed.

"What the president, president's campaign did was focus on certain members of his base coalition, give them extraordinary financial gifts from the government, and then work very aggressively to turn them out to vote," Romney said in the afternoon call, according to audio aired on ABC News.

Romney, who lost to Obama by 126 electoral votes, said the president courted voters by offering policies - some of them this election year - that appealed to key constituencies.

"With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest, was a big gift," Romney said, according to The New York Times.

"Free contraceptives were very big with young college-aged women," he continued. "And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents' plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008."

The president's health care reform plan, he added, also brought out support from African Americans and Hispanic voters.

"You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you're now going to get free health care, particularly if you don't have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity, I mean, this is huge," he said. "Likewise with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus. But in addition with regards to Hispanic voters, the amnesty for children of illegals, the so-called Dream Act kids, was a huge plus for that voting group."

But Jindal, when asked about Romney’s remarks, said in order for the GOP to be “competitive,” it has to “go after 100 percent of the votes, not 53 percent. We need to go after every single vote.”

Jindal’s criticism seemed to take latent swipes at Romney’s “47%” comments that were secretly recorded earlier this year. At a May fund-raiser, Romney argued that nearly half of Americans were “victims” who were “dependent” on the government, referring to the number of people who aren't required to pay federal income taxes. Those voters, he argued, sided with Obama.

Following up on Jindal's remarks, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker–who was sitting on a panel with Jindal when the Louisiana governor fired off–said the GOP isn't "just for people who are currently not dependent on the government."

"It's for all Americans," he continued, adding that the Republican Party is the party "that helps people find a pathway to live the American Dream."

A spokesperson for Romney did not return a request for comment about the call.

Romney, who has stayed away from the public spotlight since losing the election last week, had another call Wednesday morning with a couple dozen people who were part of the financial leadership of his campaign, but he did not make the same “gifts” comment.

The former nominee did say on that call that he really respected how the Obama administration was able to “craft” specific policies that ended up attracting the support of key demographic groups. He mentioned contraceptive coverage, as well as student loan policies that were important for young adults, according to one participant on the call.

He said he was sorry and disappointed that he lost but added his team had put everything it could into the election.

“We didn’t leave anything on the field,” one donor on the call told CNN.

He talked about how turnout was a lot lower this year, mentioning how the president got fewer votes than he did four years ago and that he got less than the 2008 Republican nominee, John McCain, received.

Romney told the donors he wanted to stay involved in public policy in some form, but he did not provide any details.

Romney's remarks come after top Republicans in recent days have pushed for a bigger tent party, saying the GOP learned this election that it has work to do in terms of demographic changes.

"We've got to be a lot more inclusive and open and energetic and wanting people to join our team by expressing why these conservative values are good for people of all races, creeds, colors, and national origin," Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, previously a top surrogate for Romney, said last week on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront."

"We've just got to do a better job with that,” said McDonnell.

McDonnell expanded his remarks Wednesday and joined in on the discussion with Jindal and Walker at the conference. He argued the class of Republican governors is more diverse than the group of Democratic governors.

"They have, I think, two women and minorities. We have seven. We're not keeping score, but the point is," he said, pausing as some in the audience began to laugh. "Well, sometimes. We are keeping score. 30-19, that's the score that matters."

McDonnell is currently the outgoing chairman of the RGA, while Jindal will chair the group in 2013.

In the presidential race, Obama won 93% of the African-American vote, 71% of the Latino vote and 60% of those between the ages of 18 and 29. Romney, meanwhile, took 59% of the white voting bloc, according to CNN exit polls.

On the Democratic side, women and minorities made historic gains this election. For the first time, women and minorities will outnumber male Democrats in the House of Representatives. The U.S. Senate will have a record number of women – 20 - when the 113th Congress convenes in January.

Romney, on the 20-minute call, said he was "disappointed" with the final election tally and "hadn't anticipated it." Looking ahead, Romney said the party is "still so troubled by the past (that) it's hard to put together our plans for the future," according to The Los Angeles Times, which also appeared to be on the call.

Speaking to the donors, Romney praised them for their success in fundraising and suggested they help with "perhaps the selection of a future nominee - which, by the way, will not be me."

The campaign's finance chairman, Spencer Zwick, said on the call that Romney's team had raised more than $900 million; Romney added he had not expected to take in more than $500 million, according to The Los Angeles Times.

In the morning after the comments, Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, who played the role of Rep. Paul Ryan in debate prep for Vice President Joe Biden, characterized Romney's words as "way off base."

"To go after the president's vote on the basis of we protected more young people from catastrophic health care costs, that we wanted to make sure people have access to birth control and those kind of things, I think is going to strike the American people as kind of very off-kilter," Van Hollen said on CNN's "Starting Point."


Filed under: 2012 • Latinos • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (608 Responses)
  1. Anonymous

    This exactly why this guy lost the election.

    November 15, 2012 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  2. MazeAndBlue

    That's what campaigning is all about. Get over it. The republican southern white men only party is history.

    November 15, 2012 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  3. Dr.Cole

    Agree with his comment or not...Romney has got a very valid point.

    November 15, 2012 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  4. MarkR

    Well, if the American people needed a good reason to be happy about every day after election day, this is it. Romney flaps his lips, using an ugly reason for his losing, instead of talking about his inability to sell his own positions. Goof got Jindal to distance himself from this foolishness. Mitt clearly does not understand the American people, and continues to refuse to take responsibility. Mitt, go home. Wherever that is.

    November 15, 2012 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  5. Dave

    You know, there is a word for when candidates tell potential voters about the policy decisions they plan to make on their behalf, allowing voters to decide if its in their interests to elect them.. Its called Democracy.

    November 15, 2012 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  6. Peter

    So what if he did? Who cares how you get people to come out and vote, just get them to come out and vote. Unlike Romney who urged corporate bosses to tell their employees how to vote, Obama didn't tell anyone how to vote.

    November 15, 2012 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  7. Anonymous

    this makes it seem like Romney has never seen a presidential race before.

    November 15, 2012 01:21 am at 1:21 am |
  8. mk1

    If Jindal doesn't understand that yes, what Romney said is exactly what the GOP stands for and has stood for for years, he needs to get out of that party. The GOP still refuses to admit the reasons for their loss which are frighteningly obvious. To me that is just fine as that will keep them on the losing side of national elections for years to come. Just wait, it is not going to be too many more years before Texas turns blue and then watch out for the apoplexy on the right. Can you imagine how the GOP could possibly win a national election with CA, NY, FL, and TX all going Democrat? Add to that in the near future also will be AZ and GA. Bye Bye GOP and good ridance.

    November 15, 2012 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
  9. Bob

    What a piece of racist, bigoted, elitist garbage. And we had to give this guy equal time at the debates. What a crock of backwards bologna.

    November 15, 2012 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  10. Here we go again

    And this is why this clown should never have been considered for President. Very immature.

    November 15, 2012 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  11. marymiser

    hasn't this guy's 15 minutes passed already? When is he just going to slither away and get out of the limelight? Buddy you lost ...move along already..

    November 15, 2012 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  12. Sharkmann

    Promising to help 100% of the people will always get you more votes then promising to help the top 5%Republicans seem to be mathematically impaired. SS and Medicare are things I have paid for and are not "Gifts".

    November 15, 2012 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  13. Jerru

    Wish we could do over the elections so he could lose all over again.

    November 15, 2012 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  14. ucheu

    Thanks God this man was not elected. period

    November 15, 2012 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  15. Name

    So in other words, offering gifts to only 1% of the population wasn't a very good strategy?

    I think Romney would find living on 200 dollars a month to be not an extremely cushy gift.

    November 15, 2012 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  16. Because we all know

    There were tons of African Americans who would have voted for Romney if it weren't for the gifts the Obama people were handing out.

    November 15, 2012 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  17. Obama Supporter

    This Romney comment further confirms why Republicans will never hold the seat in the oval office for awhile. This guy is more pathetic than I thought. The election was a blow out because the Republican party failed. I don't blame Romney entirely. He will never relate to the average American. The day Republicans realize that blonde hair and blue eyes will not win elections, they will fair much better in future presidential campaigns. Wow...I feel anger, sadness, disgust, and pity towards the Republican party all at the same time. I am amazed at how their ignorance have affected so many in a major way. Can they recover from this? Doubtful....

    November 15, 2012 01:31 am at 1:31 am |
  18. J.Lee

    This guy is like a walking political advertisement for the Democrat Party. Keep talking, Mitt!

    November 15, 2012 01:31 am at 1:31 am |
  19. Merle McClung

    What a fool! He tried to buy the election with billions worth of TV ads, it's just that he couldn't tell the truth in any of them. Rmoney told people exactly what they wanted to hear in order to 'buy' their vote, flip-flopping his way through a year and a half. Yet, behind closed doors, he was the most divisive, the most elitist rich guy ever. He confirmed every notion the 99 percent have about people like him.

    I am sooo glad he was not elected. Why in the world President Obama thinks he needs to sit down with this man and his old-fashioned ideas, I do not know.

    November 15, 2012 01:31 am at 1:31 am |
  20. Kenneth Franczyk

    mittens, sued gifts to all the rich people, oops job creators, and it wasnt enough. he doesnt even have the the decency to be a good loser. the best man won, congratulate him, and fade away to one of your houses

    November 15, 2012 01:31 am at 1:31 am |
  21. Ryan S

    So glad the sore loser didn't win. What a disgrace to American women, minorities and the hard working middle and lower class.

    November 15, 2012 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
  22. Anonymous

    Ahhhhh yes.Ladies & gentlemen. At long last.The moment you've been waiting for......(drum roll) The real MITT ROMNEY!!! hahaha. Bitter & sore at losing. That's gonna leave a mark on the ego. But don't worry. Sleep well on your millions as the country continues to heal & build. Forward.

    November 15, 2012 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
  23. Patrick

    I am a Republican but what happened to a gracious loser? Makes me sick. Let work together and get his stuff fixed.

    SAD! Plus the Prez just can't wave his Harry potter Wand and make laws. There are two other departments, Senate and Congress. The problem is the uneducated American Public and the Career Politicians.

    November 15, 2012 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
  24. bobden

    We are VERY lucky that romney was not elected. He is not a bright person. And, he is not an honest person.

    November 15, 2012 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
  25. skarphace

    Before the election, when I read about attempts like this to demonize the Democrats and try to portray them as addicted to government assistance, it made me angry because I was worried that the majority of Americans were buying into that propaganda.

    Now, after the elections have shown just the opposite, attemps like this from Romney and the same from Bennett just make me feel dissapointed. I had really hoped that Romney was better than this and would continue his 'work together' angle that he adopted from his concession speech.

    Now, it appears that his concession speech, being unscripted, was a false portrayal of his views and the '47%' angle reflects his true feelings, which is too bad.

    November 15, 2012 01:33 am at 1:33 am |
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